REVIEW: Batman ’66 #1

by

Or – “Holy Flashback, Caped Crusaders!”

When TV came calling back in 1966, Batman and Robin were ready for the call.  For some, Adam West is the only real Caped Crusader, and it seems that DC Comics has heard their cries in the wilderness.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Works well in digital format.
Great action sequence.
Reads and looks good as well…
Cons

Feels pretty short.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

READER RATING!

[ratings]

Batman661CoverBATMAN ’66 #1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Jonathan Case
Colorist: Jonathan Case
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 99 Cents

Previously in Batman ’66: The early 1960s were a troublesome time at DC Comics.  Upstart Marvel was making great strides in terms of market-share, and the entire industry was changing.  When Hollywood came calling, DC optioned the rights to Batman (their second-most popular character at the time) for a program that turned out to be a campy, light-hearted pop-art enterprise and a surprise hit.  Though it only lasted 3 seasons, the Batman TV show led to a mini-renaissance in the midst of the Silver Age, and it’s effects are still being felt in the Batman comics today.  Now, we return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, with a future twist, as DC launches an entirely new digital format, dubbed DC²…

THE NEXT LEVEL?

For a long time, I’ve been resistant to digital comics, feeling that they’re not “real” comic books, and that the transition from one medium to the other lessens the impact of the comic story.  When I initially went to grab this issue, I didn’t realize that it was a digital-only book, and I was a little bit leery of what I might have gotten myself into.  As the first page of the book opened, though, my doubts quickly evaporated.  Artistically, this book is designed to look as retro as possible, with heavy use of color dots to simulate the comics of yore, but the reading experience is like nothing I’ve encountered.  The interface moves you through the book, transitioning panel-to-panel, and the creators use their space pretty cleverly.  I’ve complained in the past about having a digital comic book “read itself” and drag me along for the ride, but the formatting/design of this issue makes it all feel natural, and even emulates the source material of the TV show in the action.  Of course, they also have an extended action sequence that would NEVER have flown on television, both in terms of the budgeting and the technology (not to mention the strictures about television violence in the 60s.)

AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE…

Of course, it helps that the story is well-handled, and that the dialogue fits easily into the mouths of Adam West and company as portrayed in the original series.  There’s a moment where Robin takes over the Batmobile while Batman leaps into action that works as an awesome superhero moment, but gets a little metaphorical cherry on top when Batman asks if Robin wants to practice with his new daytime driver’s license.  The art itself is not only good looking, but formatted well to the digital medium, using it’s wide panels expertly, and even panning up and down to fit the story’s action.  I’m also most pleased that the creators use multiple paneling and the gutters correctly, with the few paneled pages actually appearing panel-by-panel in my display window.  It’s a quick read, setting up a Riddler story, and ending with the customary bombastic “voice-over” questions as the show did, in the voice of producer Bill Dozier himself.

THE BOTTOM LINE: LOOKING FORWARD TO EARTHA KITT.

All in all, it’s a decent chunk of story for 99 cents, and delivers on it’s promise of a new kind of comic experience.  While I’m not ready to trade in all my comics for an iPad, it’s an interesting experience that doesn’t try to transfer existing pages into a Frankenstein’s “motion comic” as Marvel tried to do a few years ago.  Batman ’66 #1 delivers on the promise of a meaningful continuation of the 60s camp television show, as well as the promise of something entirely new in comic terms, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Digital comics need to take this as an example of how to use the format to their advantage, and expand the storytelling techniques to work with their new tools.  I’ll be interested to see how the print version of the book comes out…

Rating: ★★★½☆